World News Brief, Thursday May 17

Ratko Mladic on trial at The Hague for war crimes during Bosnian war of 90s; Chen Guangcheng tells US congressional hearing his family is being harassed; Burmese president pledges to stop buying weapons from North Korea; Pakistani president will attend NATO summit; anti-Putin 'Occupy' protesters in Moscow moved on; and more

Top of the Agenda: Former Bosnian Serb Leader on Trial for War Crimes

Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic went on trial at the The Hague today for allegedly committing war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity (NYT) during the Bosnian war of the 1990s. The prosecutor's indictment accused Mladic of orchestrating with Serbian politicians a policy of "ethnic cleansing" by forcing out tens of thousands of Muslim and Croat families from their villages in Bosnia to give the land to ethnic Serbs. Mladic, who was captured in May 2011, is also charged with devising the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, which left eight thousand unarmed men and boys dead.


"The fact that he was not on the spot does not of course mean that he was not giving orders from afar, through his established chain of command. Even if we give Mladic the benefit of the doubt about his physical presence at the mass execution sites, there remains a mountain of evidence suggesting that he was the primary initiator and organizer of Europe's worst atrocity since World War II," Foreign Policy's Michael Dobbs wrote earlier this year.

"For the thousands of women who were held in 'rape camps' in eastern Bosnia, for the families of the countless people who were 'ethnically cleansed,' it was imperative to find Mladic. He had to stand trial if there was ever to be even a semblance of justice. The Balkan wars inflicted trauma not just on the people of Bosnia, on the Serbs, the Croats, and the Muslims, but on Europe as a whole, shamed by its own impotence in the face of slaughter," Janine di Giovanni wrote for Newsweek last year.

"Serb nationalist pride in Mladic is one thing. The failure to apprehend him, however, had become an immense foreign policy problem for Belgrade. It was the biggest roadblock to Serbia's candidacy for membership in the European Union. For Boris Tadic, Serbia's pro-Western President, the horns of the dilemma were: find and deliver Mladic and risk popular anger or fail to do so and almost certainly lose the next election because of his inability to get the E.U. candidacy," TIME's Dejan Anastasijevic wrote last year.



Chinese Dissident Calls Into U.S. Congressional Hearing

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng--who escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. embassy last month before being transferred to a Beijing hospital--called into a U.S. congressional hearing yesterday to voice concern over the alleged harassment of his extended family (WaPo) by Chinese authorities.

BURMA: President Thein Sein assured South Korean President Lee Myung-bak yesterday that Burma would end its practice of buying traditional weapons from North Korea (NYT) and would not assist the North's nuclear and long-range missile programs, according to South Korean officials.



Pakistani president will attend NATO summit

Anti-Putin protesters camped in Moscow park moved on by police

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on